Politics and Health, 2020

Politics and Health, 2020

By Robert Scott

All writers in Op Ed are here to inform and acknowledge issues of importance to our communities, however these writings represent the views  and opinions of the authors and not necessarily of The Advertiser. 

As we get closer to Election Day, we often hear from candidates that they and their family are good, Church-going folk and so we should vote for them. For my part, it doesn’t matter much what they do on Sunday mornings. I am only interested in whether their moral compass indicates a sense of responsibility for all of us to help our brothers and sisters when they need help. My sense of ethics and my personal belief system make me vitally interested in how, whether in the County Council or the State House or in Washington, DC, an aspiring politician will enable their level of government to do a better job than we are doing now, at four tasks. If you are elected, how will you help us to be better at feeding the hungry? Welcoming the stranger? Caring for the sick? Becoming better stewards of our fragile home here on earth? These simple questions provide at least a start, a lens through which to begin seeing whom to vote for, and whom to vote against.

Take just one of the four: caring for the sick. In the midst of a global pandemic as at any other time, there is both an ethical and a personal “what’s in it for me” side. The trick is to realize that in the long run, the answer is exactly the same. We are all called to care for the sick, in good times but especially in challenging ones. The ethical question to be thinking about when evaluating an office seeker is this: if this person is elected or reelected, will they influence our county / state / country to do a better job than we are now, at caring for the sick? I don’t mean just advancing the state-of-the-art, coming up with an expensive treatment for COVID-19 to benefit those who are wealthy enough to be at the head of the line for cutting-edge treatment. I mean caring for the average resident, your neighbors and mine who live down the street. Will their medical care be more likely to be there when they need it, if this candidate is elected? The “what’s in it for me” aspect is this. When my wife and I are out shopping, isn’t it in our own best interest that the clerk at the check-out line be healthy? When the clerk is sick, don’t my family and I benefit if they can afford to be treated and to take time off to get well again, before returning to work? But not only the store clerk: how about that stranger who is putting their vegetables on the same counter that I do, right before I put mine there? Does it matter to my family’s health whether the family in front of me at the check-out line at the clothing store, or the little girl who just tried on three size 4 dresses before settling on one, is speaking English at the time? Doesn’t helping that whole family to be healthy, benefit all of us?

A rising tide lifts all boats. Improving our community’s health spreads that health and, as COVID-19 is teaching us all, the opposite is also true. Our whole nation needs to do a better job at caring for the sick. An office-seeker whose program includes improving our ability to care for one another not only helps us to build a better society. It also helps my family and yours to be healthier. Think about that, before you make your decisions this election season. Whether you plan to mail in your ballot or to go to the polls in November, make sure you vote!